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Justine Damond's Fiancé 'Desperate' For Answers Over Minneapolis Police Shooting

The Australian woman was reportedly wearing pajamas when police shot her dead.

18/07/2017 7:34 AM AEST | Updated 18/07/2017 1:41 PM AEST
ABC News 24
Don Damond, with son Zach, delivers a prepared statement outside the family home in south Minneapolis.

Australian woman Justine Damond's death has been ruled as homicide by the Minneapolis medical examiner's office, as the police officer who shot her sent his "condolences" to her family.

She died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner said in a brief statement on Tuesday (AEST).

"Manner of death is homicide," the statement read.

The determination comes as Damond's fiancé Don shared his anguish at the lack of police transparency over her death at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officer Mohammed Noor on Saturday night local time.

"We have lost the dearest of people and we are desperate for information," he said in a tearful address early on Tuesday morning AEST.

The 40-year-old Australian life coach and meditation teacher was unarmed when she was shot, although it's believed she may have been holding a mobile phone, which was reportedly found near her body.

Her fiancé also revealed that Justine called '911' in response to what she thought was a sexual assault occurring in the alley behind their home in the Minneapolis suburb of Fulton.

She touched so many people with her loving and generous heart. She was a teacher to so many and lived a life of openness, love and kindness."

It has been reported by multiple witnesses that the pajama-clad bride-to-be was fired at from within a police cruiser while she addressed his partner through the driver's window, but police have not confirmed this.

"Sadly, her family and I have been provided with almost no additional information from law enforcement, regarding what happened after police arrived," Damond said.

"Piecing together Justine's last moments before the homicide would be a small comfort as we grieve this tragedy."

Audio of the officers' radio dispatches before and after the shooting has been published on Minnesota PoliceClips. It begins with police describing a "female screaming behind the building", believed to be what Damond reported in her initial call.

The next report is: "Shots fired... we've got one down."

Facebook
Justine Damond with her fiancé Don and step-son Zach. The family are demanding answers about how she was killed.

Officers are then heard calling in for back-up and report attempting CPR on Damond as one of them confirms "there are no suspects at large" -- but at no point during the audio is the shooter identified.

Both officers' body cameras were turned off at the time, and police say the shooting was not captured by the officers' squad car dash camera. The state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) said it was investigating to see if any other video captured what happened.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is calling for both the officers involved to be penalised for failing to turn on their body cameras in violation of their own department's policy.

"This violation of policy thwarted the public's right to know what happened to Ms. Damond and why the police killed her," Interim Executive Director Teresa Nelson said.

The officer who shot her has been identified as Mohammed Noor, who joined the force straight out of training in 2015.

Officer Noor, the first Somali-American officer to join the Minneapolis's 5th Precinct team, had already had two complaints lodged against him this year, according to the ABC.

In a statement released by his lawyer, Noor extended his condolences to the family of Justine, but neither accepted or denied fault over her death.

The attorney Tom Plunkett described Noor as a "caring" person who "takes these events very seriously because, for him, being a police officer is a calling".

"He joined the police force to serve the community and to protect the people he serves. Officer Noor is a caring person with a family he loves and he empathizes with the loss others are experiencing," Plunkett said.

He also noted that the current environment for members of the force was "difficult", "but Officer Noor accepts this as part of his calling".

Officer Noor and his partner are on paid administrative leave while the BCA investigates.

In an update on Monday afternoon, the BCA said their investigators found no weapons at the scene of the shooting and both the officers who attended had been placed on paid administrative leave.

In a short statement, Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau described the death as clearly "tragic".

"I understand why so many people have so many questions at this point," the statement read.

"I have many of the same questions and it is why we immediately asked for an external and independent investigation."

Police Chief Harteau said she's asked for the investigation to be expedited "to provide transparency" and answer questions surrounding the death.

Damond, who was also known as Raszczyk but had taken the name of her future husband, was a trained yoga instructor and ran a business as a meditation teacher and life coach. She grew up in Sydney, attending the selective Manly High School before completing a degree in veterinary science at the University of Sydney, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Supported by son Zach -- who unleashed a tearful tirade condemning police violence in a Facebook live following news of her death -- Damond paid tribute to the "kind", "funny" Australian who had uprooted to Minnesota to wed him.

"Our hearts are broken. We are utterly devastated by the loss of Justine," he said.

"The death of Justine is a loss to everyone who knew her. She touched so many people with her loving and generous heart. She was a teacher to so many and lived a life of openness, love and kindness. Our lives are forever changed as a result of knowing her.

"It is difficult to fathom how to go forward without her in my life."

The Raszczyk family in Australia also released a short statement saying Justine was "treasured and loved" and "undoubtedly will be very missed".

"This is a very difficult time for the Raszczyk family. They are trying to come to terms with this tragedy and to understand why this has happened," family friend Julia Reed said in a statement on behalf of the family.


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